A Sixty Minute Sprint Through Our Emerging Future


Reimagining the Future

I had the pleasure of keynoting the annual Hawaiian event hosted by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of California. The 2018 Blue Ribbon Conference was a great four-day event that focused on many pressing issues: from employment law, to politics and robots, a broad array of challenges faces the industry.

You can view my hour long keynote via this Link. You will need to register in order to view it.

Game Changers: Can We Teach Machines to Predict?


Today on Coffee Break with Game Changers, Bonnie D. Graham hosted a show focused on the future of prediction. You can listen to the rebroadcast here. The session abstract is included below, as well as a Twitter stream that provides insight into the topic and our discussion. The show participants included: Bonnie, Gray Scott, and myself

Episode Description

The buzz: “Those who have knowledge, don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge.” (Lao Tzu)

Given the uncertainty, pace, and unexpected nature of today’s world, there are too many unknowns for us to effectively predict the future. Reality check: A convergence across science, technology, politics, society, economics, the environment, and growing ethics discussion, has created a complex web that requires the type of system thinking that may exceed our human capacity. Do machines hold the answer? Can they predict the path of an overwhelming number of possible futures?

The experts speak. Frank Diana, TCS: “We have a duty to think hard about what may be, so as to better prepare society for the changes that may come” (Richard Baldwin). Gray Scott, Futurist: “Prediction is not just one of the things your brain does. It is the primary function of the neo-cortex, and the foundation of intelligence” (Jeff Hawkins). Join us for Tech Magic or Hype: Can We Teach Machines to Predict?

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Visualizing Our Emerging Future – Revised


As our emerging future shifts continuously, our challenge is to shift with it. The number of building blocks that combine continues to explode, challenging our ability to track its complexity. I’ve used a visual representation of this challenge – and I see older versions floating around – so I am updating it via this post. When I use the visual in presentations, I build towards it to avoid its overwhelming nature (which I believe accurately reflects the overwhelming nature of the challenge). I will replicate the approach here by building towards the full visual.

Convergence across aspects of science, technology, economic forces, politics, society, our environment, and a growing conversation around ethics, is creating a highly uncertain world. At the heart of the pace dynamic is the exponential progression of science and technology – reflected in the first piece of the visual.

Science and Technology Curve

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YouTube Channel Launch


YouTube Channel

The journey to the future is gaining more attention for both the opportunity it presents, and the fear of unintended consequences. Dialog and proactive action are critical to shaping this emerging future in human-centric ways – a story line that is nicely articulated in a new book titled Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I am a firm believer that shaping the future requires a different mindset. As stated in the book, we must all adopt a zoom-in and zoom-out strategy: zooming in to acquire an understanding of the characteristics and potential disruptions of specific advances in science and technology; and zoom out to see the patterns and combinations that emerge.

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Early 2018 Reading List


Update January 22nd: I am adding a book just released to this short list – Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution

I’m often asked for book recommendations that aid with future thinking exercises. A good source in 2018 for this type of exercise is Fast Future Publishing, whose goal is to profile the latest thinking of established and emerging futurists, foresight researchers and future thinkers from around the world, and to make that thinking accessible to the widest possible audience. Their innovative publishing model bypasses most traditional publishing channels and accelerates time to market. Two books that I’d recommend for early 2018 are described below, and a new book due out in the spring is also included.

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An Uncertain Future


I have used this Emerging Future visual to demonstrate the overwhelming number of combinations that will conspire to create our future. The science and technology foundation converges with societal, political, economic, and environmental forces to build towards a very uncertain future. A future that I believe represents the third massive tipping point in human history.

This very short animated video describes the visual.

Strategy and Multiple Futures


I recently engaged with fellow futurists on an article for Digitalist Magazine titled Why Strategic Plans Need Multiple Futures. I think the authors truly captured the challenges of strategic planning in a world where pace and the sheer volume of change makes our emerging future anything but predictable. The focus on story telling as the most effective way to communicate potential futures is powerful, and the Lowe’s example really brings that point home. I recommend this articles to leaders everywhere. Here is a powerful quote:

“Companies like Lowe’s are realizing that standard ways of planning for the future won’t get them where they need to go. The problem with traditional strategic planning is that the approach, which dates back to the 1950s and has remained largely unchanged since then, is based on the company’s existing mission, resources, core competencies, and competitors.

Yet the future rarely looks like the past. What’s more, digital technology is now driving change at exponential rates. Companies must be able to analyze and assess the potential impacts of the many variables at play, determine the possible futures they want to pursue, and develop the agility to pivot as conditions change along the way.”